One of the fist decisions you will have to make when getting into the online world would be what web hosting provider to choose to host your various sites with.
This will also be one of the first expenses you will have and many newbies don’t really know how to go about picking the right web host since you simply don’t know all that you need to know.
So i’m here to help and provide you with all the information you need in order to make the right decision and pick the right web hosting provider that will fit your needs.
First thing First
Before we dive into what to look for with a web host lets look at what hosting actually is and what types of hosting accounts are out there for you to choose from.
There are numerous type of web hosts that are available: Free, Shared, VPS, Dedicated servers, and managed WordPress hosting.
There are free web hosting available, BUT I don’t recommend you go with any of them. You will usually find these offers on various forums or other small sites and what it basically means is that someone is reselling a small part of his server space to cover up some of his expenses or simply to make a profit.
The biggest downside of having a free is that they are unreliable. You never know when this person will stop offering their service and they can leave you hanging at any time.
Like I said, free hosting is something you should stay away from.
Shared hosting is the most popular type of hosting used by beginners. It is the most affordable and probably the best type of hosting to start with for most.
Shared hosting means that you share a large server with a lot of other sites. By having multiple sites on the same server, it allows the host to provide the service at such low and affordable rates.
Not all is prefect with shared hosting and the biggest catch and this applies across all shared hosting providers including the one I recommend is the use of the word unlimited:
- Unlimited GB’s of Space
- Unlimited GB’s of Transfer
- Unlimited Domain Hosting
- Unlimited E-Mail Accounts
- Unlimited MySQL Databases
What you need to know is that there is no such thing as unlimited. While it says unlimited, you still have usage restrictions. If your site starts to take up substantial server load, they will politely force you to upgrade your account.
This isn’t something you need to worry about, just something you need to understand. You can’t host hundreds (or even dozens) of sites on one shared hosting. That will simply won’t work and when you have a site that has substantial traffic you will simply move it to one of the more advanced hosting options.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) refers to a virtual machine. It is a method of partitioning a physical server computer into multiple servers with respects to the individual customer’s need.
Even though, you are sharing the server with a handful others, this gives you almost as much control as a dedicated server (soon to be explained). It also has the privacy of a separate physical computer, and can be configured to run specific server software. Often developers, intermediate users, and medium-sized bloggers utilize VPS to scale their websites.
For those that don’t have any technical knowledge, you need to make sure that you purchase a managed VPS. This means that the hosting provider manages all system upgrades, and they are available to assist you if needed. I’m actually using KnonwHost Managed VPS to host some of the bigger sites I have and if you are looking for a managed VPS recommendation, than I can’t recommend KnownHost enough.
Dedicated server is a physical server that you can lease from the hosting provider and it is not shared with anyone else. A dedicated server allows you to have full control over the server including the choice of operating system, hardware and other resources.
No newbie should need a dedicated server to start with. This is something that only high traffic sites are using so once your site is receiving a significant amount of traffic, only then should you consider upgrading to a dedicated server.
Just as with the VPS, you also have the option for a managed dedicated server in which full-time system administrators maintain your servers. Along with doing software updates, they also do server monitoring, offer phone support and basically take care of everything for you so you can focus on other things.
How to Pick a Shared Hosting Provider
Now you know the various types of hosting accounts that are available for you and I assume that you will start with a shared hosting provider since that is what applies for those that are just starting out.
I know that the first thing most will look for is the price and the first mistake you can make is to base your decision on the price alone. There are more important factors to consider. Keep in mind that sometimes paying cheap will only end up costing you more down the line.
Responsive support is a must have with any web hosting company. There’s nothing more frustrating and panic inducing then finding your website down one day, submitting a support ticket, and waiting hours (or even days) for someone to tell you what’s going on.
Many of the better web hosting companies include a Live Chat function on their website so you can talk to someone within minutes. Be sure to check the hosting company Twitter and Facebook accounts and see how responsive they are to customer service requests.
2. Reliability (Up-time)
You want your websites to be up 24/7 at all times. With that said, you should understand that there are always unforeseen things that can happen to any web hosting company that will cause some downtime but in general, a hosting company that respects itself and its users will do all it can in order to keep up-time to the maximum as that is their core business.
You want to be able to install WordPress easy and fast so you need to make sure the hosting providers support one click WordPress installation. The good news is that almost all of the popular hosting providers support easy WordPress installation.
4. Ease of Use
Hosting talk is scary and intimidating for most newbies and it is pretty understandable. You want to make sure that the hosting you choose has a control panel that is easy to understand and easy to use.
5. No Limits
There is no such thing as no limits so don’t buy all the unlimited stuff you are getting with your hosting account. No hosting provider will truly provide you with an account that has no limits even though they do say that on their homepages. They make sure to add fine print wherever it is needed to cover their asses. With that said, this isn’t a big deal and you will be able to host 10-20 sites easy just as long as they don’t get too big and get too much traffic.
6. Price (Affordability)
Although price might not be the most important factor, it is still something to consider but you really won’t find any big difference here. Hosting is very competitive and the hosting providers are doing everything they can to get more users so prices are pretty much the same across the board.
How to Research for the Best Hosting Provider
The thing about hosting is that it is a very competitive and lucrative niche and the hosting companies are paying high commissions for those that can refer users to join their services.
What this means is that 99% of the hosting review sites that you will find online while searching Google are mainly focused on the commissions they will make by referring you than about providing actual real and valuable information.
So using Google for your research isn’t the right way to go. What you should do is:
You can check out forums, like Web Hosting Talk, were real people hangout and share their honest experiences and opinions regarding the various hosting companies.
It is 2013 and social is the big thing. All brands have accounts on Twitter and Facebook and the same goes for hosting companies. It is much easier these days for customers to complain and share negative things that happened to them so be sure to check the social accounts and see what is going on.
Just go ahead and contact the support of the hosting company you are interested in. See how quickly they reply, if they have a live chat feature and get a feel to what their support is like.
Just ask around. I bet some of your friends have websites so ask about the hosting company they are using. If you are reading any popular blogs of people you trust they are most likely to recommend a specific web host they are using.
And on that note, here is the hosting providers that I recommend.
My Recommended Hosting Providers
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